Jordan Sullivan Named Big Sky Conference Player of the Week

By JOEL CARLSON for GoGriz.com

Montana senior Jordan Sullivan, who helped the Lady Griz to three wins last week, was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week Monday by the league office. It is the second career Player of the Week award for Sullivan, who was also honored in January.

Sullivan averaged 17.3 points on 54.8 percent shooting and 11.0 rebounds as Montana closed the regular season with a road win at Montana State and home victories over Sacramento State and Northern Arizona.

It was an offensive breakout that came at just the right time. Over the course of 14 games from early December through early February, Sullivan averaged 15.1 points on 52.4 percent shooting. The next eight games, which included Monday’s 72-65 win at Montana State: 6.5 points on 25.0 percent shooting.

Jordan Sullivan

JordanSullivan

That all changed Thursday when Montana opened a two-game home stand after four straight on the road. Sullivan posted back-to-back double-doubles, giving her five for the season and six for her career, on red-hot shooting.

“Jordan is not someone who ever got discouraged when it didn’t go well for a while,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “But I think she was determined to get back on track, and she did.”

In Thursday’s 87-76 win over the Hornets, Sullivan had 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks. Her rebounding and blocking numbers both matched career highs.

In Saturday’s 83-66 victory over the Lumberjacks, Sullivan, on Senior Day and in her final home game, had 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 11 rebounds.

“I don’t feel like I played differently, though maybe there was a little extra surge from wanting to do well for my last games at Dahlberg Arena. That probably fed into it,” said Sullivan.

“I also think the teams we faced and the style they play helped too. Sac State really pressured our guards on Thursday, and they handled it, and that left us open.”

The wins helped Montana finish 10-0 at home this winter against Big Sky Conference opponents and go 14-1 at Dahlberg Arena overall.

But for Montana to extend its season beyond Thursday’s Big Sky Conference tournament quarterfinal game against Montana State at Grand Forks, N.D., and beyond this weekend and into the program’s 21st NCAA tournament, the formula that works so well at home is going to have to travel.

And more often than not this winter it hasn’t. The Lady Griz are just 3-6 in their last nine road games. Six other Big Sky teams either matched or exceeded Montana’s four league road wins this season.

“We’ve been two different teams this year. We’ve had some great wins at home but not too many on the road,” Sullivan said. “We need to take the same energy and confidence we have at home and bring that on the road.”

Montana will take the No. 3 seed into this week’s tournament, but the Lady Griz are not heavy favorites against No. 6 Montana State. The Lady Griz escaped in overtime when the teams met in Missoula last month, and Monday’s win at Bozeman was a two-point game in the final minute.

Everyone, including Sullivan, is already bracing themselves for something similar to go down on Thursday. And when it does, she wants to be the one her teammates can look to

“There is going to be a point in Thursday’s game when the Bobcats make a run, and we can either fold and let them do what they want, or we can rally,” she said. “At that time, I need to be a leader on the court.”

Thursday’s tournament quarterfinals open at 1:30 p.m. (MT) when No. 2 Southern Utah faces No. 7 Sacramento State. Montana and Montana State follow at 4 p.m. (MT). No. 4 Eastern Washington plays No. 5 Idaho State at 6:30 p.m. (MT).

No. 1 seed North Dakota will face the lowest seeded winner from Thursday’s quarterfinals in Friday’s opening semifinal at 4 p.m. (MT). The other two quarterfinal winners will play at 6:30 p.m. (MT) in the second semifinal.

Saturday’s championship game tips off at 2 p.m. (MT).

*****